Bringing full-fibre to the nation's businesses
Making ultrafast broadband accessible for all UK businesses requires investment and commitment – from the Government, industry and the regulator. So let’s take a look at what steps are being taken to ensure access to ultrafast broadband becomes a reality for all.
It’s clear that investment into full fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) broadband is increasingly vital for the UK’s economy and growth.
It’s a major priority for the Government, OFCOM and the industry itself, with leading communications players working closely together on key initiatives.
In recent months we’ve seen a number of announcements from providers, regulators and the Government, all of which have one common aim: to increase the UK’s full fibre provision and bring us closer to the coverage levels expected in countries such as Spain and Portugal.
Full fibre investment is starting to happen
The good news - OFCOM’s 2017 connected nations report showed that full fibre coverage is improving in the UK.
It’s now available to 840,000 UK premises (around 3%, up from last year’s 2%), and OFCOM expect this to increase in the coming years.
Network operators are announcing plans to extend their full fibre networks, and that’s reason enough to get excited about the future of broadband.
At the end of 2017, the UK Government launched The Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review to facilitate the push for rolling out FTTP and 5G networks across the UK, following the Budget investment of almost a billion in tech.
The review, due out this summer, will look to the telecoms market to understand the barriers to investment in digital infrastructure; how investment incentives vary across the UK and what policy changes Government should consider to boost investment.
The Government has also introduced a broadband Universal Service Obligation that pledges everyone in the UK will have a clear, enforceable right to request high speed broadband by 2020.
When it comes to the industry, BT’s Openreach, which controls the national network, has raised its full-fibre target to 3m premises by 2020 and is promising 10m by the next decade. But who will be driving the innovation needed to achieve full fibre?
The role of alternative networks in achieving a full fibre UK
While the commitment from the Government and incumbent provider proves the case for full fibre broadband, it’s also important to shine a light on the investment and innovation of alternative networks (alt nets) with the hope of shaking things up and creating competition (and who doesn’t love some healthy competition?).
Much of the industry discussion and media interest has focused around consumer provision, but what about UK businesses?
At Glide Business our core focus is to liberate businesses from archaic internet speeds in areas which haven’t been serviced by other providers, and full fibre for businesses is a challenge we’re relishing.
We’re one of 5 internet service providers (ISPs) to run and invest in our own substantial network: a high performance national backbone infrastructure based around a 10-Gigabit Ethernet core in London, the Midlands and Manchester.
Using Openreach’s Physical Infrastructure Access (PIA) allows us to be faster and more efficient by harnessing the national operator’s existing cable ducts and poles to deploy Glide Business fibre.
This made it possible for Glide Business to support business during the Government's Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme trial, where we delivered 100s of customers a gigabit-capable connection across Coventry and Warwickshire.
Earlier this year, telecoms regulator OFCOM announced BT must make it easier for rival internet providers to use its telegraph poles to deliver full fibre.
This will enable our investments in fibre to go further and gives us and other altnets the ability to reach more customers with ultrafast services
And in April 2018 the Independent Networks Cooperative Association (INCA) announced that altnets are expected to increase the number of premises passed by full fibre infrastructure to 1.92 million in 2019, with this set to increase to circa 14.25 million in 2025.
Ask the experts: What incentives will galvanise the growth of ultrafast broadband provision?
In terms of incentives, with help from the Government’s Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme, which went live 27 March 2018, we’re enabling a number of businesses experience ultrafast broadband with no upfront installation cost.
Speaking on the Chancellor’s decision to take the Gigabit Voucher Scheme nationwide, DCMS Secretary of State, Matt Hancock said:
“Small businesses are the backbone of the British economy and now they can turbo-charge their connectivity with gigabit speeds. By building a full fibre future for Britain we are laying the foundations for a digital infrastructure capable of delivering today what the next generation will need tomorrow.”
James Warner, Sales and Marketing Director, Glide Business:
“Vital investment from alternative ISPs in their own infrastructure as well as Government initiatives such as the Gigabit Voucher Scheme are exactly the kind of action the telecoms industry needs to improve market sentiment and create the right climate for more investors to respond. We’re seeing more of our customers are operating in virtualised environments and opting to future proof their infrastructure so that they have the ability to plan effectively for growth.”